Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Priorities, Family and Doing God's Will

Our precious children
This Sunday, Ken and his Dad were watching the Vikings/Saints game and Mara and I joined them for the last minute or so of the game. Though I am not really into professional sports (Ken has been so happy to have his Dad move here and watch games with him) it was fun to watch "our team" win in such a dramatic way.

  But something I enjoyed much more than the game (I am a people person after all) was seeing a brief interview of Case Keenum the guy who threw the football. They were asking him what he thought about this moment and I loved his response. I couldn't find the exact quote but basically he said that this winning moment was 3rd on his list of great moments. 1st was when he gave his life to Jesus Christ and 2nd was they day he married his wife. It brought tears to my eyes that in an emotional career high like he was experiencing he was still able to remember what his right priorities were.

  Priorities can be challenging and it is something I have been thinking about lately. We are getting ready to host a Retreat at church at the end of February and the topic this year is centered around the family. As I have been thinking about that to prepare my mind and also helping to get decorations made and various other things ready for the Winter Retreat I have thought about the various priorities that many people have concerning God and their family.

   I think there are some wrong concepts out there concerning raising a family and serving God in a big way. It seems like some people think that they are called to ministry (whether it be going to the mission field or working here at home) and so even if they have to "sacrifice" their family in the process that is what they need to do. And I don't think they truly feel like they are sacrificing their family but I know that some kids that have been left in boarding school while their parents go to the mission field often feel quite a little sacrificed. Or let's bring it a little closer to home in these modern times - A wife who is left home so very often while her preacher husband goes off to preach at yet another camp or rally or is just gone nearly every evening leading this or that Bible study or counseling somebody. She can feel rather sacrificed. Especially when all that time apart from your spouse and with others leads to adultery -which I have known of happening far more than I care to think about. When any parent is involved in "ministry" so often that it causes the children to be shoved aside I think those children often feel and end up being rather sacrificed.

  I am not the only one who has seen these issues - others have too and I am noticing that sometimes there is a big pendulum swing. They don't want to happen to their family what I mentioned about so they vow to care for their family and make that their top priority. Sometimes they start leading a rather reclusive lifestyle and simply focus on their home with no outward focus at all. The problem is - family shouldn't be their top priority, God should. Don't get me wrong, family ranks super high on the list but our life isn't about our family (at least not for Christians) it is about God and seeking and doing His Will. When we read scripture we can clearly see that taking care of our family (1 Timothy 5:8), Loving our spouses and carefully training (Proverbs 22:6) and caring for our children is God's will. So we can follow God with all our heart and give our lives to His service (doing whatever He should see fit) realizing that in whatever we are doing if we have a family it is God's will that we love and care for them too.

 God does not ask us to do two different things that don't work together. In the Bible (which has in it God's revealed will for us) we find that it is God's will that we share the gospel with others (Mark 16:15 & 16, 1 Peter 3:15-16, 2 Timothy 1:7-8, etc) and we also know that we need to love and care for our family. Those have to be able to work together. We don't just choose one or the other (unless we do choose to stay single for the purpose of being able to devote our time to God without any distractions which is perfectly okay though not what God has planned for most people) - they can go hand in hand.

  The Bible clearly gives directions to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:22-33 and many other places as well. The husband is to love his wife like Christ loves the church and the wife is to submit to and respect her husband. I don't think that if a couple is following this scripture (and others like it) that either spouse is going to feel sacrificed or neglected.  1 Peter 3 also is a great chapter that addresses marriage relationships. Ephesians 6 has some good verses about raising children. The book of Proverbs is also full of advice concerning raising children. Raising children to love Jesus Christ takes time it isn't done in just a few minutes or even a day here and there.

   I hope I haven't just rambled on and on and not made sense. This is something I feel passionately about - that we as Christians were put here for a purpose and that is to seek His will and to do it and to glorify Him in everything. He has given us the job of sharing that Good News with others. If we are blessed to have a spouse and children it is also His will for us to love and care for them and train up our children. I fully believe that these two activities can both be done.

  I believe that working together with our spouse we can in fact accomplish more for the sake of the gospel. I believe that working with our children (even when they are little) we can find opportunities to share the gospel. Our families can be an asset - not a hindrance. When we can serve God together it causes all of us to grow and is a bigger light to shine to share the Good News.

   Here are just a few ideas of things we have done or I have seen others do to spread the gospel  along with your family.....

  • Invite others into your home, it could be just for a meal where you visit and encourage, it could be a Bible study or a time of prayer. We have also been blessed to have people come to our place to use our area of the river for baptisms.
  • Write. Letters, e-mails, blog posts, etc. These can be done with children around and sometimes they can even join in. These are opportunities to share the gospel and to encourage.
  • Help at a Bible camp. I have seen many families that go together to help out at camp.
  • Help at an church event. It is much easier to do things with my children's help than alone.
  • Serve at a homeless shelter. The whole family can help.
  • Sing together and for others.
  • Serve others together - you never know what opportunities you may have to share the gospel with those you are serving.
  • Spouses working together to do counseling.
  I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!



Amy and Mark said...

One thing I am so thankful in the way that I was raised, was that my parents never left us at home. When Mama went to print the church bulliten - we went with her. When Dad led youth group - we tagged along and played in the church gym. When they went to serve at homeless shelters or women's shelters - we always went along. I was so richly blessed to see my parents actively and faithfully serving the Lord and others. Now that I have my own children, I realize that at times that must have been so difficult as trying to serve meals with a 2 year old in the kitchen can be cumbersome, but they always took us along! I try to remember that when I get asked to do something and always make a point to take the children along. --- Thank you for sharing your family's ministry with all of us. We find you all to be such an encouragement.

Nola said...

These are good thoughts. The family comments really hit home. I've noticed the trend in "sacrificing" family members for ministry as well. This happened with my husband's Dad being a pastor- my husband grew up feeling his Dad did not have time for him. It also came up the other day because a friend is moving her family overseas and the husband will be teaching at a missions school- where most of the children are there boarding while their parents are on the mission field. I do not understand this. My friend told me that God calls some people to do this. I don't think this is correct. I can't see anywhere in the Bible where God would call someone to leave their children to be raised by someone else in a boarding school. I see plenty on how parenting should be done but not like that. But maybe I am wrong. My friend said I was. A friend recently told me that her husband is heavily involved in ministry helping others leading studies and a men's discipleship group but doesn't spend time with her. She feels like they are not even friends. :(

Jodie Freed said...

I believe that your friend is wrong about this. I believe it is at the very least a mother's duty to be the main caregiver of her children. How can we teach and train our children if we are never with them. I don't believe God calls parents to leave their children behind. I feel it's sadly very common for men to leave their wives behind as you have mentioned.

Abbi said...

Amy, Thanks so much about sharing what happened in your childhood. That is so wonderful! I was also blessed so very much in that way. My Dad preached at the church we went/go to (he is now one of the elders and is part of the rotation of the group of men that preach) and so he was involved in ministry - but so were we. Sure, Dad planned his sermons on his own for the most part but visiting people, helping others, working on church stuff, etc. was pretty much all a family project.

Nola, I am sorry that you are seeing so much of the other side of things. I have heard quite a few stories like your husbands. I honestly thought that the mission boarding schools were largely a thing of the past but I guess that is not so. I think that is sad. I agree with you that I do not think it is right or biblical to go off and leave your children in that way. I have seen so many positive and wonderful examples of the whole family being on the mission field (even in remote jungles) that it boggles my mind that parents would choose to leave them behind. Especially when homeschooling is so well known now and it can be done in a wonderful way on the mission field.

Jodie, Thanks so much for adding your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

That is a neat thing about Case Keenum. I hadn't heard that and it is cool that he remembered his priorities.
Love the picture. Jonathan is looking really tall in that picture!

Abbi said...

Anna, Jonathan is getting tall (6' 3" now) but not as tall as he looks in that picture. I think he found a dirt hump to stand on. :-) I think he is hoping to get as tall as Harrison.

Nola said...

Haha I thought your son seemed super tall to me as well.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks it is wrong for parents to send their children to a boarding school while they are on the mission field. I wish it were a thing of the past but its not at least in the area where my friend is going. Also another friend was in Africa 2 years ago and it was still happening there as well. :( My friend who was in Africa said that some of the children get depressed, suicidal, and many she has met have been extremely hurt by feeling left behind by their families and abandoned in this way. I can't imagine. :( I actually can't even imagine doing this. I'm finding it hard to let go in the normal natural way a mother has to let go as her children get older. But leaving them at a boarding school?! There's no way I could ever do it, right or wrong aside.


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